Summary: The Medal of Honor franchise rolls along with its latest rendition, Airborne. JCal gets the details.
FiringSquad: First, how did the idea come about for the latest game in the Medal of Honor series?
Rex Dickson: The original idea came from an e-mail exchange between executive producer Patrick Gilmore and EALA General Manager Neil Young. The subject line was simply ‘Airborne’. The idea of being able to jump out of a plane, drop into the mission space and choose any landing point within that space was an instant hit and enduring inspiration. It led to the design of a breakthrough non-linear layout and a procedural AI system that could respond to the player coming from virtually any direction.
FiringSquad: How much research into the WWII Airborne units did the development team do for the game?
Rex Dickson: The team went through an exhaustive research period during the pre-production phase of the project. The story of the game closely follows the major drops conducted by the 82nd and later, the 17th Airborne divisions in World War 2. It was important to us that we accurately portray the mission environments and objectives that the 82nd experienced. We also leaned heavily on our military and historical advisors, covering everything from drop procedure to weapon customizations.
FiringSquad: What can you tell us about the main character in the game?
Rex Dickson: The main character is Boyd Travers. Very early on in the game he distinguishes himself as one of the heroes of the 82nd Airborne. Later in the game, he is transferred to the 17th airborne for the invasion of Germany in Operation Varsity.
FiringSquad: What sort of locations and settings will Medal of Honor Airborne have?
Rex Dickson: Operation Husky is a drop into a walled village called ‘Adanti’.
Rex Dickson: It all starts with the drop. As you enter each mission (and when you re-spawn after death) you will parachute into the map and be able to choose any starting point in the mission space. From there, the player can go in any direction they want. They can leave a fight in progress at any time. They can get on top of buildings or scaffolding, they can get behind enemy lines and they can find flanking routes. While you can be old fashioned and play right down the line, Airborne is at its best when players get creative with their tactics.
FiringSquad: What sort of weapons will the game use that haven't been used in WWII shooters before?
Rex Dickson: The key innovation in our weapons system is the ability to customize. While the base weapons may be the same as other WW2 shooters, the customization feature opens up totally new aspects of these weapons never before seen in the genre. The more you use a weapon and the more efficient you are with that weapon will earn you weapon proficiency points. Once you reach a certain level with the weapon, you will earn an upgrade for that weapon. Some of these upgrades improve the weapons base characteristics. Other upgrades completely alter the weapon. For example, the final upgrade for the Garand rifle is a Rifle Grenade launcher. So, while the base weapons may be familiar to WW2 gamers, the customization feature takes them into entirely new territory.
FiringSquad: Will there be any drivable vehicles in the game?
Rex Dickson: Initially we explored larger environments that could support vehicles but we found it created a lot of dead space and pacing issues. As a result, we decided player driven vehicles were not a good fit for Airborne.
FiringSquad: What kinds of enemies will the player encounter in Medal of Honor Airborne?
Rex Dickson: In the first mission, Operation Husky, you will be fighting against the Italian black shirts. From that point on, the player will be engaging a wide variety of the Axis Elite. On reaching operation market garden, the player will face the new challenge of German Falschimajger and the panzershrek wielding Panzergrenadiers. During the final operation, the player will face off against elite Nazi snipers as well as SS elite soldiers who carry MG42’s as their weapon of choice.
FiringSquad: What can you tell us at this time about the game's multiplayer modes?
Rex Dickson: Multiplayer features both death match and objective based modes. The big innovation in multiplayer is the allied air dropping into the maps. This has a huge impact on game play for both attackers and defenders. Some of the maps are based on the single player operations, while others are based on classic Allied Assault maps.
Rex Dickson: We’ve already talked about weapon customization and non-linear game play, which are aspects that really set Airborne apart. In addition to that we have: start anywhere, procedural AI system, user defined weapon load outs, parachuting in multiplayer, procedural kinetic death system, vertical level design, kick grenade, drop kick on landing, skill drops, and much more.
FiringSquad: Why was the decision made to use the Unreal Engine 3 for the game and how hard was it to modify it for the game's features?
Rex Dickson: The decision to go with Unreal was made based on the development team determining that it was the best fit for the game we were trying to make. We had a number of developers on the team with prior experience using the Unreal Engine. This got us off to a quick start and it didn’t take us long to get our work flow pipelines established. One of the great strengths of the Unreal Engine is how versatile and adaptable it is. We found it to be an empowering tool in getting the core MOHA feature set up and running.
FiringSquad: Are there any plans for a demo to be released for the game and if so what will the demo contain?
Rex Dickson: Yes, we have a single player demo coming near the end of August for X360 and PC. The demo will contain the first mission in the game, Operation Husky. Gamers will be able to experience about 50% of that mission over the course of the demo.
FiringSquad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about Medal of Honor Airborne?
Rex Dickson: We have heard talk that WWII is played out as a genre. It’s ironic, because that was exactly our attitude at the start of Airborne, and why we were determined to break the formula. It’s been great to watch people with preconceptions actually pick up and play the game, and come away understanding it is nothing like their expectations. Airborne delivers on its promise to completely change the formula that FPS games have been based on for years. This is our way of bringing innovation to a genre that badly needed it. Rather than leading players through a series of scripted experiences, we are allowing them to define their own experience through their game play choices. This is the heart of Airborne and what we think makes this game so unique.
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